Pour it on! Five eternal lessons of Draught Day

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Apr 26, 2008



We love Draught Day: we set aside our customary bottles and cans of frosties and, in tribute to the celebratory nature of the occasion, drink our favorite golden succulent nectar from the tap only.
 
Through it all, we uncover the five biggest lessons of Day One of the Draught. And there are still a lot more  information to follow. So keep 'em coming, barkeep, we got a long drive ahead of us!
 
1. Michael Vick will never play quarterback again
Hard to believe, but there were single-celled organisms in the plastic pigskin petri dish of online gridiron analysis who harbored the fantastical illusion that the Falcons would wait two or more seasons without dogfighting impresario Michael Vick before re-inserting him at quarterback. Remember, his potential return as Atlanta's quarterback (or any team's quarterback) was a red-hot debate just a few months ago.
 
The Falcons, to their great credit, do not live in this fantasy world of smoky, mystical dreams inhabited by many fans, "pundits" and Michael Vick jock-sniffers. They officially ended the debate Saturday. With the No. 3 pick, Atlanta grabbed the top-rated quarterback in the draft, Boston College's Matt Ryan. He may or may not turn into the franchise quarterback the Falcons so desperately need to return to respectability (remember, their lone Super Bowl team of 1998 boasted one of the most productive passing attacks in NFL history).
 
But Ryan's selection made a pretty emphatic announcement: Vick will never play quarterback again, at least not in Atlanta. And it's hard to see any team looking at a 30-year-old quarterback who's never had great passing skills anyway and hasn't taken a snap in two or three years and saying, "Yeah, that's our guy."
 
Vick is, however, a record-setting ball-carrier and if he returns, it will be as a running back. It certainly won't be as a quarterback in Atlanta. The Falcons made that point loud and clear on Saturday.
 
2. NFL teams worship at the altar of the Cold, Hard Football Facts
O.K., maybe that's overstating the case a bit (after all, self-congratulatory bombast is a gift we offer you for free each and every day). But it is true that we've perhaps been the only outlet on Planet Pigskin to consistently point out the many flaws of drafting wide receivers in the first round. Yet for years, NFL teams eschewed our wisdom, and made wide receivers the most frequently drafted first-round position.
 
Not this year.
 
For just the second time since the first joint AFL-NFL draft in 1967, not a single wide receiver was grabbed in the first round (1990 was the only other year with this distinction).
 
Teams made up for it with a run on wide receivers – nine of them – in the second round. But clearly, it was a radical departure from past years when teams said through their actions that they placed more value on wide receiver than any other position.
 
Of course, the evidence clearly showed that NFL teams were wrong and that receivers did not possess the value accorded them. And, for at least one year anyway, NFL teams Saturday proved that they were more interested in the far more important "building block" positions than they were in wideouts.
 
Which is why ...
 
3. It was a great day for the Hogs
The growing importance of the franchise left tackle to protect the quarterback's backside has been one of the great trends of the past decade, highlighted by – among other examples – increasing salaries for offensive tackles, the Michael Lewis book "Blindside" and, most recently, the devastation the Giants pass rush wrought on a seemingly unstoppable New England offense in Super Bowl XLII. New England's left tackle, Matt Light, is one of the primary scapegoats for the loss.
 
NFL teams have certainly picked up on the message: Feed those Hogs! As expected, there was a huge run on offensive tackles in the 2008 draft, with seven of them taken in the first round, from No. 1 overall pick Jake Long (Miami) to No. 26 pick Duane Brown (Houston).
 
Of course, the laws of phootball physics demand that for every action in the draft there is an equal and opposite reaction, and teams stocked up on defensive linemen, too: a total of seven, including four of the first seven picks. That's a lot of money being dumped into the trenches this year.
 
A total of 15 of 31 first-round picks, and 22 of 63 selections on day one, were devoted to offensive and defensive linemen.
 
4. It was a lousy day for the used-car salesmen
Mel Kiper Jr. and Scouts Inc. (as represented by Todd McShay) once again coughed up a Draft-Day hairball, with each nailing just 7 of the 31 picks in the first round, a nifty 22.6 percent. Of course, one of those 31 picks was Jake Long, who signed a contract with Miami back on Tuesday. Even Bonzo, our pigskin prognosticating primate who literally pulled names out of a hat, got that one right. So, of the first-round picks that were actually in question, each draft "expert" got 6 of 30 correct (20.0 percent). We don't care what sport you play, 20 percent does not make you an "expert."
 
Both also correctly nailed the No. 2 overall selection of Chris Long to St. Louis. So, among the final 29 first-round picks, Kiper and Scouts Inc. each accurately predicted just 5 of 29 (17.2 percent). We believe they were both 0 for 32 in the second round, but have our crack staff looking into that right now to confirm.
 
Of course, our own Bonzo nailed only two first-round picks. But he's an imaginary monkey who didn't study a damn thing and pulled names out of a hat. Still, over the final 16 picks, Bonzo got one selection correct. Scouts Inc. got two.
 
5. There's no excuse for Herm now
Kansas City probably produced the most exciting spate of first-day picks. With three of the first 35 selections, the Chiefs landed a potentially dominating defensive tackle in Glenn Dorsey, the centerpiece of LSU's stifling national-championship defense, a potentially dominating guard in Branden Albert, and a potential shutdown corner in Brandon Flowers. All were projected as first rounders.
 
The Chiefs still have plenty of issues – namely, finding some explosiveness on an offensive attack that Herm Edwards has dismantled so quickly that the military wants him to oversee the Pakistani nuclear program. But NFL teams and turnarounds are built through the draft and that's a boatload of potential the Chiefs just brought on board, with three key building-block positions. Plus, those Dorsey-Albert battles will make for some great training camp highlights to whet the appetites of Chiefs fans this summer.
 
But with potential and excitement come heightened expectations. And Kansas City needs to turn this influx of talent into a much improved team, or it's bye-bye, Hermie, bye-bye.

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